Why the HVAC slow season does not have to be a drag on your business
HVAC is a seasonal business that finds a good market during hotter summer months and colder winter months when temperatures go to extremes. It’s quite natural for consumers to ignore their heaters or air conditioners during spring or fall. Many households give their air conditioners and heaters a break during the lean period. Even when there is a dip in the service calls, HVAC businesses still need cash to retain their core staff, maintain equipment, and meet overhead costs. Moreover, many HVAC companies are experiencing demand fluctuations with the outbreak of COVID-19. HARDI reports that their average distributor experienced a 19% decline in sales during April 2020 compared to the figures in April 2019.
As demands reduce and the season lingers into a lean mode, how can HVAC contractors and business owners generate profits? Here are six tips.
1. Offer discounts
Cut prices during the slow season: Offer special deals for regular customers who upgrade to a new air conditioner or heating system during the off-season. Many homes and businesses take advantage of bargain prices to install new HVAC systems.
Offer seasonal discounts to encourage customers to maintain their HVAC equipment during the off-season. Reduced profits are worth it to keep the workforce engaged and establish steady cash flows.
Pitch work to other seasonal businesses: Offer special rates for preventive maintenance during their lean season. Convince them about the importance of routine maintenance during the off-season. Air conditioners and heaters not serviced during the off-season may break down during the peak season. Discounts and offers deliver a spin-off benefit of clearing out old inventory. The business may start the new season with the latest materials.
Use the HVAC service software to tweak prices based on demand and the time of the year. Link the CRM suite to the HVAC software to personalize offers.
2. Pace out recurring jobs to the off-season
Schedule routine upgrades and annual maintenance obligations during the off-season. This keeps technicians free for transactional customers who come in during the peak season.
Use the HVAC scheduling software to pace out routine inspections.
3. Reorient marketing activities
Many HVAC companies reduce their marketing budget to survive the off-season. This creates a downward spiral. Forward-looking HVAC businesses do not lay off their marketing staff or reduce their marketing budget. They rather reorient their efforts to:
- Reach out to previous customers who have not taken up annual maintenance contracts, and who have not serviced their equipment for a while. Many people book a service or even commit to an upgrade only when someone reminds them.
- Sell long-term service maintenance agreements. Offer perks such as priority service, inspection fee waiver, and other seasonal discounts to bring in new customers. Focus on relational customers during the lean season. Relational customers generate guaranteed, recurring revenue.
- Review customer profiles and follow up non-priority leads. Some customers might have enquired about upgrading their HVAC equipment. These leads may have fallen down the pecking order because of better-qualified leads.
4. Form strategic partnerships
Form partnerships and alliances with related non-competing businesses. Develop package deals offering customers the convenience of a wide range of services while engaging with just one agency.
Diversify into unrelated business lines if circumstances warrant. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, an HVAC business in the USA partnered with a pet supply company to make home deliveries. The advantages include immediate cash flows when the major business is lean and access to new prospects who may require HVAC services.
Offer the option to avail multiple services through the HVAC management software, by listing the extra services.
5. Build a social media profile
The lean season is the perfect time to catch up with social media engagement.
- Update the website with fresh content. Have a relook at the SEO, to improve visibility.
- Link the HVAC software to a CMS, and queue up blog posts.
- Energize social media profiles with fresh content and active outreach.
- Invest in social media listening tools to understand customer wants and preferences.
- Respond to ignored online reviews. Check for reviews at Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other places. Offer a personal response for every feedback, good or bad.
6. Leverage HVAC software fully
Never underestimate the power of HVAC service software to make operations seamless, delight customers, and increase cash flows.
Use the lean season to:
- Iron out kinks in the HVAC scheduling software, to speed up operations, track field technicians, and sync inventory. Efficiency improvements deliver big cost savings.
- Analyze and compare seasonal data of previous years to get better insights into the present and make predictions for the future. Make hiring plans, inventory, and other preparations for the peak season based on such trends.
- Add new functionality as required. Automate routine processes. Roll out cloud-based mobile apps for field agents, customers, and other stakeholders.
- Customize service maintenance agreements and streamline service calls.
Commitment to quality delights customers. Favorable word-of-mouth from them brings in new customers.
Smart HVAC businesses take advantage of the lean season to train employees, update inventory, upgrade HVAC management software, and get their house in order. Most businesses push non-priority activities to the back burner during the peak season. Yet such non-essentials need attention at some point, to keep the business running. The slow season gives ample time for HVAC businesses to catch up with such tasks and “sharpen the saw” before things get busy again.
It’s high time for contractors to consider HVAC as a year-round business and not a seasonal one. If you can break even during the slow season, it can be a big win for your company. The first step is to get started today.
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